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When children lack basics like proper clothing, food and school supplies it has an impact on their ability to learn. Student attendance, engagement in the classroom and positive feelings about school are impeded. I see these barriers occurring on a daily basis for students. Fortunately, the Helena community has always acknowledged these challenges for our students and families and provided opportunities to eliminate or defer these barriers. The Angel Fund exists to help eliminate these barriers for our students.

I have been an elementary principal for 15 years, the last nine years supporting students and families at Bryant and Four Georgians Elementary. Each and every year, I look forward to experiencing the gratitude our students share with us when they receive their new school outfit, jacket or school items. One student shared with me, “The Angel Fund gave me a coat, pants and gloves to keep me warm on my walk to school.” Another mom shared her relief in knowing the Angel Fund could help with clothes through the winter season. She recently started a new job, and this was one less financial worry to deal with.

Since 1989, Marcia K. Wall and the Angel Fund have supported the students in our community. The Angel Fund is a nonprofit corporation helping children in need. It started when Marcia was the school counselor at Helena Middle School providing field trip money, winter coats and shoes to middle school students. The Angel Fund now supports over 800 students in the Helena School District each year! The budget has steadily grown over the years from $15,300 in 2001 to $148,900 this school year. This past spring, we also awarded 14 Montana post-secondary $1,000 scholarships to qualifying graduates at PAL, HHS and CHS. In accepting the scholarship, each graduate agrees to “pay it forward” in the future.

The 12th annual “Stuff the Bus” is a Helena tradition coordinated by Angel Fund. Our local educators, churches, businesses, state offices and community members give their time and money to provide a positive start to the school year for our students in need. Nearly 1,300 children in Helena and surrounding areas were able to start the year with a new backpack full of supplies.

The Angel Fund also works in partnership with the attorney general’s office and the Helena Police Department to get athletic shoes for area children. So far this school year, Running for Montana’s Future has received 46 requests for running shoes. School resource officers have been busy sizing and delivering each pair of shoes, most of them in the last few weeks. To date, almost 600 pair of shoes have been purchased since 2010.

Please plan on joining us on Monday, Nov. 26, from 5 to 9:30 p.m. at On Broadway to celebrate the Angel Fund’s continued support of our students. Fifty percent of your dinner check will be donated to the Angel Fund. Our board of directors will also be hosting a silent auction featuring items from local artists, craftsmen and businesses. Thank you for supporting the Angel Fund! Your donations are making a difference in lives of our children.

For information on how to donate, please visit our website at www.angelfundhelena.org or send donations to: The Angel Fund, P.O. Box 7436, Helena, MT, 59604.

“Real generosity toward the future, lies in giving all to the present.” -- Albert Camus

Nick Radley is a board member for the Angel Fund and principal at Four Georgians Elementary School. 

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